For eight decades the Los Angeles International Wine Competition has bestowed gold medals to the best wines from around the globe. Sixty years after the wine competition’s conception, the addition of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition was a perfect fit.
The extra virgin olive oil competition celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019. Back in 2000, wine competition organizers were looking for a way to expand the competition. The marriage of extra virgin olive oil and wine was natural. Both require a distinguished palate, both have distinctive varietals, both are important to serving the perfect meal. At its inception, the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition enlisted an impressive list of judges to taste the finest domestic extra virgin olive oils. The competition was eventually opened to international oils, with oils coming from Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
The wine and extra virgin olive oil competitions are the foundation for an extensive education program that’s available to nearly 1.3 million visitors to the Los Angeles County Fair. Public wine tasting began in 1968; in 1998 a wine education center opened, complete with consumer-driven classes, tastings and a display of the award-winning wines. Extra virgin olive oil was added to the program in 2000 and spirits in 2007. The Los Angeles International Wine and Extra Virgin Olive Oil competitions are committed to educating the public about wine and extra virgin olive oil, featuring industry experts with extensive knowledge about selection, tasting and food pairings.
PierPaolo Arca has been a Taster of Olive Oil since 1991; Panel leader since 1997; Expert Olivecultural Sector of “Regione Sardegna”’ Technical Co-ordinator “Comitato Concorso Nazionale Montiferru” olive oil from 1994 to 2011; Member of Jury of the regional selection “Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario” in 1995/96/97/98/2000/01/04/05/06/10 and Panel Leader in 1999/2003/2007/2011; Member of the National Jury “Concorso Nazionale Ercole Olivario” in 2000; Member of International Jury of the “Premio BIOL – International Competition Organic Olive Oil from 1997 – 2011; Member of jury of SOL D’Oro International Olive Oil Verona 2003; Member of International Jury of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition fromn 2008 – 2015; Member of Internaitonal Jury of the Japan Olive oil Prize in 2014 and 2015; Coordinator for Sardinia guide Extravergini olive oil Slow Food from 2002 to 2016 and the Presidio Slow Food Extravergini by olive groves.
Darrell Corti of Sacramento, Calif., is a wine merchant/grocer, President of Corti Brothers, Sacramento. He is a long-time judge at the Los Angeles County Fair beginning in the early 1970s. He is Chairman of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.
Margaret Edwards enjoyed a career as a dietitian, university lecturer (part time), and management roles with leading New Zealand companies. She retired in 2003 to concentrate on olive oil. She was the leader of the now disbanded IOC recognized New Zealand tasting panel for olive oil. Margaret is an international olive oil judge, a consultant to the olive industry. She runs olive oil workshops and lectures about New Zealand extra virgin olive oil. She is the author of numerous publications about food, nutrition and olive oil. Margaret and her husband own a boutique olive grove and olive mill on Waiheke Island, New Zealand where they produce their award winning extra virgin olive oil.
Maria Farr is an olive oil judge and sensory taster. The founder of The Renaissance Kitchen, a company whose mission it is to educate the home cook on how to purchase, store, cook and taste olive oil. She began training for olive oil sensory tasting at UC Davis, while continuing her career as a high school Spanish teacher. Now she solely focuses on olive oil sensory tasting with Applied Sensory, LLC, and consumer education through her business and blog. Maria resides in California but frequently travels to Argentina, her birth place, to visit with family and enjoy her cattle ranch.
Richard Gawel is a consultant taster and blender for a number of Australian olive oil companies. He was the inaugural head of Australia’s first recognized tasting panel and has been a long time appointee as presiding judge of most of the major Australian Olive Oil shows including the Australian National.
Orietta Gianjorio is a certified 3rd level Advanced Sommelier and a certified olive oil taster part of the Italian Registry of Olive Oil Tasters and Experts. She holds a 2nd level certificate as a Qualified Chocolate Taster from the Istituto Internazionale Chocolier, and a 2nd level certificate as an Expert in Honey Sensory Analysis from the Italian Registry of Experts in Honey Sensory Analysis. With only one test remaining, she is on her way to becoming one of only two people in the USA to be certified as an expert in honey sensory analysis. She collaborates with the California Olive Oil Council Taste Panel and the Applied Sensory Taste Panel, the Honey and Pollination Center and Mars Chocolate UC Davis Chocolate Taste Panel. Orietta is the owner of ORIETTA LLC, a consulting company on sensory evaluation and descriptive analysis to the wine, olive oil, chocolate and honey industries that also offers Consumer Education, Gourmet Tastings and Cooking Classes for adults and children. Orietta is the Delegate in Sacramento for the Italian Academy of Cuisine. She is the author of A guide to Olive Oil and Olive Oil Tasting and two children’s books about olive oil and tasting, Coratina and Come Visit The Teeny Tiny Town of Taste. Orietta was born and raised in Rome, and now resides in California. Orietta has judged in different wine, olive oil, honey, chocolate and cheese competitions including the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, Biol (Puglia, Italy), Sol D’Oro (Verona, Italy), and The California State Fair Cheese Competition. She has written, produced and hosted several TV shows in Italy and America and is a regular guest on many TV stations as a food and wine taster and expert.
Jean-Xavier Guinard is Professor of Sensory Science at the University of California, Davis. His research investigates the sensory and non-sensory determinants of food preferences, choice, purchase and intake and optimizes the sensory and nutritional quality and consumer acceptance of foods, beverages and other consumer products. Jean-Xavier has conducted extensive sensory and consumer research on olive oil and he created and directed the UC Davis Olive Oil Taste Panel for several years.
Maria Paz Aguilera Herrera has a PhD in Chemistry and is the Tasting Panel Leader and is the Head of Experimental Cooking Lab with Olive Oil in Citoliva. She is a researcher on the characterization and quality of olive oil. She is developing the application of extra virgin olive oil for cooking and the use of by-products. She has extensive teaching experience. Maria Paz has participated in the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, the XVII Quality Award of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Expoliva, The International Fair of Olive Oil and Related Industries, and Argoliva.
Maria Luz Hurtado is an Agricultural Engineer, PhD, graduated from the University of Chile. She began her studies and specialization in the area of olive oil in 2003, in different countries like Spain and Italy. In 2004 she took over as Director of Oil Production and received her diploma in the aforementioned university. She became an expert as a Tester in Olive Oil and has been working for more than 14 years in olive oil research at the University of Chile.
Sue Langstaff has a Master’s degree in Food Science from the University of California at Davis where she studied Sensory Science, Enology and Brewing. Sue has judged wine, beer and olive oil at numerous competitions and her research in Sensory Science has been published in several technical journals. Sue is co-editor of the book Olive Oil Sensory Science (Wiley/Blackwell, 2014) and is the creator of The Defects Wheel for wine, beer and olive oil. Currently, Sue works as a sensory scientist for her own consulting company, Applied Sensory, LLC which provides sensory consulting to the food, wine and beer industries. Sue is also the North American Global Sensory Manager for FlavorActiV, a company which provides sensory taste panel training and reference standards.
Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking, and has been a frequent judge for the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition since 2007. He started out studying physics and astronomy at Caltech and then English literature at Yale University. In 1984 he published On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen. Twenty years later, the revised and enlarged edition of On Food & Cooking was named best food reference of 2004 by the James Beard Foundation, and in 2008, Time Magazine named him to its annual list of the world’s most influential people. From 2006 to 2011 he wrote a monthly column for The New York Times. Since 2011 he has been a visiting lecturer in the Harvard University course "From Haute Cuisine to Soft-Matter Science."
Julie Menge began her tasting career as an in-house taster for Dole Packaged Foods, evaluating pineapple, fruit, and packaged food products while she was employed as an R&D chemist. Her background includes biochemical and field research at Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences/Texas Ag Extension Service. In the late 90’s she began tasting olive oil with UC Davis to improve the quality and standards of US produced olive oil. She was a founding member of all California internationally certified olive oil taste panels and currently serves as a panel member, judge in olive oil competitions, and teaches olive oil tasting classes.
Maria Lourdes Toujas is a consultant for Chile, Argentina and Uruguay for the extraction of extra virgin olive oil. As consultant, those companies have obtained numerous awards in prestigious international competitions. She graduated from the National University of Cuyo and has worked with companies important to Argentina as head of the plant and production of olive oil.
Marino Uceda Investigator Titular of the Andalusian Institute of Investigation, Panel Chairperson and the Technical Director of the Proper Title of the University of Jaen. Marino is the University expert in Tasting of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Coordinator and a participant of 41 projects in the field of the extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Pablo Voitzuk is an olive oil maker and taster, he is currently working with Pacific Sun Farms in Gerber, Northern California. A native from Buenos Aires, he learned his skills in olive oil and table olives curing working with Apollo Olive Oil and studying in Tuscany with Dr. Marco Mugelli and in Sardinia with Pier Paolo Arca. He has judged in different olive oil competitions; Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, California Olive Oil Council, Japan Olive Oil Prize, Sol D’Oro, Verona and BIOL, Puglia, Italy.
Paul Vossen has an MS degree from UC Davis in Horticulture (Tree Crops Production), a Certificate in Olive Oil Production from the U of Córdoba, Spain; Panel Head Certificate from the IOC; and a Certificate in Marketing from UC Berkeley. He recently retired as the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Farm Advisor in Sonoma County after 36 years. His primary expertise is in the areas of fruit tree, berry, and specialty vegetable culture; pest control; and marketing of farm products. He helps farmers with the evaluation of their land, production costs, selection of appropriate specialty crops, cultural practices, pest control and advises on selling their produce. Over the years, he coordinated 15 California Olive Oil Production Short Courses and taught 28 Olive Oil Sensory Evaluation Courses in the US and internationally. He was a founder of the California Olive Oil Council, UC Davis Olive Center and he developed the first olive oil taste panel in the USA to become recognized by the International Olive Oil Council in 2001. Paul has been the panel leader for the UCCE olive oil taste panel in Santa Rosa, CA. He serves as an olive oil judge at several US and international competitions. In retirement, Paul now works as a private consultant helping producers all over the world to produce and market the best olive oil possible.
Glenn Weddell received a culinary degree and has served as Executive Chef for 30 years at many of Sacramento’s finest hotels, restaurants and country clubs as well as personal chef to the Maloofs, former Sacramento Kings owners. Glenn’s services have been requested by many visiting celebrities from the Rolling Stones to President Bill Clinton. In 2007 Glenn took the Corporate Chef position with Mani Imports, the second largest Greek olive oil and olive importer in the USA. His work in developing and locating new food products has provided extensive travel through Europe. The UC Davis Olive center focused his palate through sensory training where he served on their tasting panel since 2012 as well as an apprenticeship with the COOC in 2013, the Applied Sensory LLC and the Sumner Analytical fresh produce sensory panel. In addition to the LA International olive oil completion, Glenn is a judge for the California State Fair as well as the Yolo County Fair.